Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finished the Blacked-out Stage One Iron 883, Laughlin Here I Come...

This is an unusual sort of blog post for me, but on the off-chance it helps someone out with customizing their bike, I suppose I'll go into some detail about what it is I have done to my 2011 Harley Davidson Iron 883. I've included links to the specific parts themselves, do not make the mistake of buying directly from the link, shop around.

I bought the bike about 4 months ago, not only is it my first Harley, its also my first motorcycle. Hell, to be honest I bought the damned thing before I even knew how to ride or had my license (I've been told I jump into things head first). I hadn't been riding it a week before I knew I was ready to customize it. Here's what I've done so far:

AIR INTAKE: The first thing I did was install a Screamin Eagle Stage One Air Cleaner. This was simple enough, pull of the backplate, throw on some Locktite, and bolt back together. There was a noticeable improvement, but it wasn't really much. Disappointed with how little power I got from that I started collecting information on the internet and seeing what others were doing to their 883's. I gathered that I was going to need a new exhaust system, and fuel manager at the very least.

EXHAUST: After exhaustive research (see what I did there... huh? Huh?) I settled on Black Rush Performance slip-on mufflers. I really would have preferred the Vance and Hines model, but they don't come in black, and my overall goal was to rid the bike of chrome. So I wrapped the pipes in black and installed the slip-ons. The first thing I noticed is that the term "slip-on" is a little misleading, I had to beat the shit outta the existing mufflers to get them to detach, but once they did the new ones slipped on like a glove. I gotta say, the Rush mufflers sound badass, I really can't say enough positive about them.

FUEL MANAGEMENT: After reading reviews I settled on the Dobeck TFI 1251 This is what made all the difference. Some people say you HAVE to change your fuel system if you change your exhaust and intake, some say you don't. I have NO idea which is correct, but I will say, for about $200, don't find out if it will damage your bike. This is THE upgrade that took my performance from stock to balls out.

HANDLEBARS: I wasn't a fan of the way the stock drag bars had me bent over, and I wanted a little more height. Enter Harley Davidson Mini-apes. Mini-apes give a nice rise so that you're sitting upright, but not too much to where you are uncomfortably reaching. In order to perform this install, you have to make sure that you have a brake-line, clutch-cable, and the wiring to reach about another 6 inches. The clutch-cable was fine, however... nothing else was. Installing a new brake-line is a bitch, but was an absolute necessity (however there are no shortage of sites to help you with that so I won't tackle it here).

As for the wiring, I read that if you lift your gas tank on Iron 883's that there is an excess of wire that you can unravel to make the stock wire-harness work. WRONG. This was NOT the case on my 2011 Iron 883. So I was faced with a dilemma: either buy the wire harness extender that Harley sells which is literally a plug-and-play extension, or hand wire about a dozen wire extensions by hand, tape them, and wrap them. This sounds like an easy call, but it was going to take a week to deliver the harness and I'm impatient as all hell, so I took the latter road and hand wired that mother. Honestly, if you've done wiring before, and you write a good wire diagram, its time consuming, but easy as hell, crack a few beers and dedicate 2 1/2 hours.

Also, while this is all disassembled is an excellent opportunity to put on new handlebar grips. I chose the Black Diamond Grips, but to each there own.

BLACKING OUT: As I said before, my intention is to remove all chrome from the bike. Unfortunately, the forks are chrome, so I was faced with either painting them (and painting chrome is a bitch of a chore at the very least), buying new forks (way too much $$$), or blacking them out myself. I've read that they make leather wrap around covers for them pretty cheap, but as I have a windshield that mounts to my forks, this was not an option. Enter hose-tape. Hose tape is weather resistant, cleans up with chemicals, and is built to last quite a while with even gas pumping around it. It also adds an aggressive "rat-rod" look to the already stripped down 883.

Many people opt to "smoke out" the lights with the Harley kit, but honestly, the bikes already black as night, I really don't mind people seeing a few bright red and yellow lights at while I'm riding around town after midnight.

SMALL BITS: With the handle bars now raised, you can't see a thing out of your mirrors. But don't fret. I simply loosened my turning signal, re-tightened it in a position closer to the forks, unbolt the mirrors, and flip them. It makes the bike look sleeker, and you can actually see things behind you. I also added some saddlebags my buddy gave me, a add-on Harley backseat, and am in the process of painting a sissy-bar I bought on Ebay.

This is all just stuff I've done, but I have had COMPLETE success with it, and love the aggressive look, sound, and performance that has came from it. Eventually I will make the upgrade to the Stage Two. The Stage Two is when you strip the engine, bore out the cylinders, install new pistons, and it upgrades your engine from 883cc to a 1200cc. These kits can run you anywhere from $400-700 on Ebay, and from my research, is the BEST upgrade option available.

Here is a link to a Ultra-mega size HD pic.

Laughlin, here I come.

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